South African ad agency Quirk to team with leading global communications group WPP
South Africa-based Quirk was founded by its Chief Executive Officer Rob Stokes in 1999 and employs some 200 people across its various offices.
It currently has five agencies in Africa and London, including a new but burgeoning presence in Kenya.
Quirk offers a full suite of “through-the-line” marketing services to a formidable portfolio of local and international clients, including Woolworths, Capitec Bank and Distell.
WPP’s Chief Executive Officer Sir Martin Sorrell said: “WPP has been watching Quirk for a while and we feel strongly that now is the right time for us to join forces.
“As a group Quirk has demonstrated consistent growth and creativity way above the market in both South Africa and the UK and we look forward to helping them bring their unique brand of insight and innovation to our global client base.”
Stokes said: “I feel like we have agreed an incredible deal, and one which will really take our business forward. Quirk is not a normal agency, and the team at WPP realise this.
“They have embraced our rather unusual culture and progressive approach to marketing, and together we have designed a partnership which will allow us to retain much of our independence in areas which matter most to us, whilst still allowing us to benefit from the advantages of being part of a global advertising network.
“Quirk has always held massive ambitions to expand our unique service offerings across the African continent, and our relationship with WPP will ensure that this becomes a reality far quicker that we could otherwise have dreamed. Words cannot express how excited we are!"
This investment aligns well with WPP’s strategy of developing its services in fast-growing and important markets and sectors and strengthening its capabilities in digital media.
WPP's digital revenues (including associates) were well over US$6 billion in 2013, representing almost 35 percent of the Group’s total revenues of US$17.3 billion.
WPP has set a target of 40-45 percent of revenue to be derived from digital in the next five years.
Quirk's unaudited consolidated revenues for the year ended February 28, 2014 were approximately ZAR 140 million, with gross assets at the same date of approximately ZAR 68 million.
The deal issubject to regulatory approval.
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”